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Marisa HeinzeOctober 6, 2022

Sport while you have a cold: do's and don'ts in the flu season

The cold season is just around the corner and not only Corona will spread again, but also the classic flu and colds. What is the best way to prepare yourself for this and when is it better not to exercise for a few days?

Exercise when you have a cold? This is what happens in your body

Surely you know the rule not to exercise when you're sick. But why is that actually the case? To better understand what's behind this good advice, let's first look at what your body is doing when you've contracted a pathogen.

The flu and most colds are caused by different viruses. Depending on the virus, you can get infected via aerosols, droplets or smear infections. After a certain incubation period, the virus has spread sufficiently in the body to cause symptoms.

It depends on the virus, the amount of virus and the current state of your immune system, whether it will only provoke mild symptoms in the upper respiratory tract, or whether you'll be lying in bed for a week with a fever.

Typical symptoms are a runny nose, irritated eyes, coughing, difficulty breathing, headaches, body aches and fever. Some of the symptoms are triggered by local inflammation, for example of the mucous membranes. However, some symptoms are the direct result of the activity of your immune system. The most well-known example of this is a fever.

Exercise when you're sick? Here is what you should pay attention to:

If it hits you so badly that you can hardly get out of bed, the question of exercise doesn't even arise for you. But what if you're not feeling too bad? What speaks against exercising with a cold if you are hardly restricted?

To answer that, let's go back to the previous section. You've seen that even with a minor infection, your body is busy getting rid of the pathogen.

Your immune system needs energy and works best when your body doesn't have to provide extra energy for other efforts.

You can perfectly prepare your immune system for the flu season if you exercise regularly during healthy times. However, if you already have a cold, rest is the best thing you can do for your body. The better your immune system can concentrate on its task of healing, the faster you will be fit again.

We'll take a closer look later at the consequences of ignoring this advice.

Sport while you have a cold: do's and don'ts in the flu season
Here you can find out why exercising is not a good idea when you have a cold.

Sport with a cold: what works and what doesn't?

Does that mean that you should just lie quietly on the sofa all day? Of course not. As a rule, you do well by listening to your body and carefully trying out what it is currently capable of and what it is not.

The intensity of exercise when you have a cold should be adjusted to your current level of performance. If you're honest with yourself, and don't push yourself too hard, you can actually support your recovery.

Exercise with a cold: it's possible

If you feel fit enough, a walk in the fresh air is recommended. Even in the dark flu season, natural light supports your immune system and moderate exercise can stabilise your circulatory system. Watch your pulse and heartbeat. As long as both are stable, you can adjust your walking pace.

Walking, slow cycling, gentle yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation are other activities you can do with a mild infection that may even be good for your body. Always pay attention to how your body reacts and rather stop the training early, if you feel yourself getting exhausted.

No time for peak performance

You've already seen that most of the energy right now should be made available to your immune system. When you have a cold it is therefore not the right time to work out intensely or to continue your normal training routine.

Many sufferers of the flu make exactly this mistake and ignore the body's warning signals such as dizziness, nausea or extreme exhaustion.

Please reduce your training workload as much as possible. Endurance running, heavy weight training and all sports that put a heavy strain on your cardiovascular system should be taboo until all symptoms have really disappeared.

Exercise with a cold: these are the risks

If you start training again too early or don't take a break at all, you damage your body. And not only that: the immune system cannot perform at its best, the symptoms of the disease and thus the involuntary break from sports last longer. So, what initially seems like discipline is actually doubly unwise.

If you want to continue doing sports when you are sick, in the worst case the virus will have the upper hand until it has spread far and wide in the body. A flu infection with a cold can then turn into a sinus infection, bronchitis, or even pneumonia.

But other organs can also be affected. We then no longer talk of locally limited inflammations, but rather those that can become life-threatening in individual cases, for example if the heart muscle becomes inflamed or chronic diseases are triggered.

All this just because you don't want to miss out on sport for a few days? It shouldn't be worth it to anyone.

Give your body rest: Exercising when you have a cold is not a good idea

Exercising with a cold is usually not a good decision. If you notice the first symptoms of illness in the cold season, or just feel worn down, shift back a few gears.

Remind yourself of what is happening in your body and support your immune system, so that you get fit again as quickly as possible.

Exercising when you have a cold is not only risky, it also doesn't get you any closer to your athletic goals. After all, you lack the energy to really perform well. And if things go badly, your break from training will be longer because you didn't provide your body with sufficient rest.

Take your body's warning signals seriously, and keep in mind that starting your workout too soon can have serious effects on your body.

You now have the knowledge you need to be able to decide for yourself which exercise is good for you and which is more harmful to you. If you have further questions and are already a member of EVO, you can also contact our local club managers at any time and work out together what exercise might be possible for your condition, and what you should definitely avoid.

We wish you to get through the flu season as healthy as possible.

Sport while you have a cold: do's and don'ts in the flu season
Take your body's warning signals seriously, and keep in mind that starting exercise too soon can have serious effects on your body.
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